How the Sicilian Mafia was brought down by the world’s most brutal drug mobs that ‘will bring violence and bloodshed to Britain’
Pundits have claimed THE Sicilian Mafia has been overtaken by far more ruthless gangs in South America and Eastern Europe, bringing bloodshed and misery to Britain.
The arrest of top Sicilian mobster Matteo Messina Denaro has been proclaimed by many as proof of the sinking of the infamous Cosa Nostra.
The diminished status of the Sicilian Mafia, once one of the world’s most notorious criminal organizations, is largely due to a 30-year effort by authorities on the Italian island to dissect their networks of power and save the island from morphing into what is a Expert dubbed a “narco-state”.
Another key factor in the demise of Cosa Nostra is the work of US prosecutors to take down the Five Families, the Italian-American mafia groups that ran much of New York’s organized crime scene.
The Sicilian Mafia had much closer ties to the US mob than other major Mafia groups, including the ‘Ndranghetta in Calabria and the Camorra in Naples.
Speaking to The Sun Online, John Dickie, a professor of Italian at UCL and author of the book ‘Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia’, explained the links between the Sicilian and US Mafia.
He said: “The Sicilian Mafia had something the others didn’t have, a transatlantic bridge.”
These ties were largely severed by the RICO law enforcement and commission process, resulting in eight high-profile mobsters being sentenced to 100 years in prison each.
A similar trial in Italy, the Maxi Trial, took place in Palermo, Sicily, in a special concrete bunker connected to a prison specially built for the cases.
In 1992, 338 gangsters, including 19 leading mafia bosses, were sentenced to a total of 2,665 years in prison.
John continued, “A generation ago, when Denaro was on the run, western Sicily was ‘hostile territory’ to the Italian state.
“The mafia had given themselves the right to kill anyone with impunity and collect their extortion tax from any economic activity, legal or illegal. The mafia was a shadow state.
“In the last 30 years, the Italian state has slowly gained ground.”
But today, 30 years on from those verdicts, experts have warned that the world is more cocaine than ever as the drug trade brings increasing violence and misery to the streets of the UK.
Part of this is believed to be due to the Sicilian Mafia being hijacked by more brutal gangs in Colombia and Eastern Europe.
Speaking to The Sun Online, however, author and journalist Toby Muse warned against any romanticization of the Italian mafia.
Toby, who lived for 10 years in Colombia’s feared Clan del Golfo cartel, said: “The Mafia likes to portray themselves as ‘The Godfather’ and claim they have rules. “
The British-born author behind Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels explained how the Colombian cartels became a new, deadlier force in the 1970s and 1980s, exporting drugs to Europe and the United States in unprecedented quantities transported .
He said: “When the Colombian cartels formed their connections in the 1970s and 80s, there was no real overlap with the mafia.
“They created their own market where cocaine was sold.”
The most notorious of these, the Clan del Golfo, also known as the Los Urabenos Cartel, emerged from the far-right death squads that emerged in response to lawlessness in the country in the 1990s.
The Colombian government had signed a peace treaty with the left-wing insurgency movement FARC, which handed over part of the country the size of Switzerland to the Marxist guerrillas.
They wreaked havoc among the local population, often conducting a kidnapping campaign for huge ransoms.
This led to local peasants arming and forming militias to take on the rebels and protect themselves when the state was unable to do so.
Expect corruption in Britain
Eventually, they formed the AUC, a far-right paramilitary force that quickly turned to cocaine production to fund their own reign of terror.
One of the main commanders of the AUC founded the Clan del Golfo.
Toby explained that while the US mob controlled the low-level distribution, they never reached the Clan del Golfo level.
He said: “There is more cocaine in the world today than at any time in history.
“It’s seen as a Colombian problem, but it funds and empowers violent gangsters around the world. It corrupts officials around the world.
“The domino effect of the cocaine industries in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia is extremely dangerous.”
Part of the impact, Toby explains, has been ever larger shipments of cocaine, with the high-profile busts offering a glimpse of the scale of the industry.
A huge bust has 20 tons of the drug seized in the United States.
In February 2020, in another such large-scale arrest, authorities in the Caribbean arrested a crew from Montenegro aboard a cargo ship with five tons of cocaine.
Toby added: “This is a global problem that requires global solutions. Colombia cannot solve this on its own and it is unfair to expect it to do so when wealthy countries are still buying this drug in such large numbers.”
The Clan del Golfo has also escalated international crime-related violence to new, previously unseen levels.
Its power doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon, although more and more money is being pumped into efforts to combat it.
Last year, cartel militiamen locked down much of northern Colombia in retaliation for the arrest of their leader.
Former cartel leader Dario Antonio Úsuga David, better known as Otoniel, was arrested in a major raid on his jungle hideout in 2021.
In response to his extradition to the US last year, balaclava-wearing paramilitary fighters set up roadblocks, set fire to vehicles and forced shops to close.
This week, Otoniel pleaded guilty to drug-related charges in a US court and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison after being extradited to the United States last year.
In addition to drug-related offenses, he faced more than 120 charges in Colombia, including murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse of minors, terrorism and weapons offenses.
Far from breaking the back of the Clan del Golfo, it appears that his successor has already been appointed.
Jesus Avila Villadiego, known as “Chiquito Malo” or “Little Bad Man”, is believed to have filled Otoniel’s shoes.
Toby attributes this to a failure of the drug war and law enforcement’s so-called “capo strategy” – based on the belief that taking out the head of a cartel will lead to its collapse.
Regular deals took place between the largest European criminal organizations and the Colombian drug cartels.
The ‘Ndrangheta – or the Calabrian mafia – has more established ties to the Colombian cartels than Cosa Nostra ever had.
For example, in 2022, the OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) reported on the extent of the links between the ‘Ndrangheta and the Clan del Golfo.
In a raid in June, the Colombian authorities seized 4.3 tons of drugs and arrested 38 suspects in a large-scale operation.
While the Colombian government has made incredible strides in combating the power of the cartels, the vast sums of money created by the drug trade are now bringing misery to many other parts of the world.
Toby continued: “With this cocaine money flowing through Europe you will see more corruption, this industry needs corruption.
“Expect corruption in Britain. This is a fight that Colombia has been fighting for 40 years.”
Much of the cocaine in Britain comes from Colombia via Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam.
In 2021, the Dutch city’s customs officials seized a record 70 tons of cocaine, up 74 percent from the previous year.
This represents only a fraction of the cocaine entering the port and reflects the crisis officers are facing.
The city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, warned that Rotterdam was “drowning in cocaine,” blaming the drug for a rising tide of violence.
Young men from disadvantaged neighborhoods are drawn into the drug trade, which promises easy money and a glamorous lifestyle.
Even port workers have been arrested for drug-related offenses, including a 43-year-old police officer.
Some of this rampant corruption can already be seen in the United States, where Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents have confessed to conspiring with drug cartels.
In 2020, disgraced agent Jose I Irizarry pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges, including bank fraud and diverting millions of dollars in drug proceeds from DEA control.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7254188/how-sicilian-mafia-overthrown-colombian-drug-cartels/ How the Sicilian Mafia was brought down by the world’s most brutal drug mobs that ‘will bring violence and bloodshed to Britain’